We start with a chap called Dominic Fortune back in 1940. He is some sort of hired gun constantly getting into scrapes and bar brawls. One of his biggest enemies was Baron Wolfgang Von Lundt. The scene is brought forward to the present with a much-older Dominic running for his life from some gang. As they catch him up and back him into an alley's corner, he begins to beg for his life as we cut away to Spidey swinging across the city.
Our hero is wondering if he did the right thing in taking the gold notepad. He also has a flashback to Uncle Ben's death and is beating himself up over the recent mistakes he has been making.
Back to the action. Dominic has stumbled across an iron bar and begins to dish out some punishment. As one of the goons pull a gun on him, though, our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man drops in a dishes out some beatings which are seriously un-friendly. Dominic tells him he is in pain, so Spidey swings him across town to hospital.
We cut again to an office where the gang who Spidey just trashed are reporting back to ... Lundt. He reminds us that Spidey and Fortune have teamed up in the past (Marvel Team-Up 120, which I've not read). Back at the hospital, Peter is there taking pics for the Bugle of Fortune as a hero. We find out that Fortune is hunting for a woman named Sabbath who he met back in the 40's.
Back with Lundt (who is being called Mr Steele) and he is visiting a house in the Bronx that is home to the Shocker. Ol' Shocker displays his powers by blasting some random goons. Steele gets the Shocker (aka Herman Schultz) to sign a contract pledging to 'terminate' Fortune. I guess Arnie's got his eye on the movie role.
Anyway, back at the Bugle, Fortune is waiting for Pete and asks him if he can use the Bugle's archives to find some information of the Sabbath girl he is looking for. We find out the Fortune's previous searching had led him towards the path of a chap named 'Steele', which is why the goons were after him at the start. It seems that Fortune doesn't know Steele and his old enemy Lundt are one and the same.
Fortune thinks he has lead which would take him to Europe. He goes to JFK with Pete in hot pursuit. At the airport, however, The Shocker catches up with Fortune and sets abpout fulfilling his part of the contract. He blasts Fortune but then Spidey gets involved. The Shocker's new equipment gives him the upper hand but Fortune has had time to recover and shoots him. The bullet bounces off, though, and two of Steele's gang show up.
While they fight each other, Spidey and the Shocker are still battling away. Spidey and Fortune both come out on top and the Shocker is arrested. Back at Steele's house, he orders The Shocker's house be destroyed to get rid of anything incriminating and then addresses someone there with him as 'Sabbath'.
Much like Issue 7 and the Hulk dream, you feel like you're right in the middle of a crossover, although there's no information to tell you if that's the case or not. I hadn't read Team-Up 120 so had no prior knowledge of the characters.
The mystery of who Sabbath is/was isn't dealt with in the next issue or any of the other Spidey books, so where it is sorted out I don't know (if anyone does, e-mail me!)
The book just doesn't feel like a Spidey one and commits the cardinal sin of using him simply as a peripheral character to a story that's not his own. Quite why this is part of a Spider-Man story, I have no idea. It doesn't further any of the on-going plots from the other books or offer anything new.
The art is gradually getting better. The characters themselves are pretty strong but, as so often seems to be the gripe, the backgrounds appear washed- out and dull. The script isn't too bad in itself but the dialogue does seem quite samey and cliched.
Perhaps I missed something important in Team-Up 120 or there's a sequel to this that I haven't read yet. Either way, I don't see why Pete/Spidey is merely a backup figure in his own comic. It doesn't make sense.
The story in itself isn't too bad, hence the rating, but it could have achieved the same result with, or without, Spider-Man.